Tuesday, March 20, 2007


My Google-sleuthing has found this quote my mother mentioned. Trying to search for it in English produced no results, but I heard her say the first five words in Cantonese to my younger sister. So I made my guesses as to how to pinyin-ify four of those words into Mandarin, but really I only knew what two of the words were, and along with using quotation marks to search for phrases, I found what I was looking for.


Google-searching only produced this much pin-yin of the quote:

tian jiang jiang da ren yu si ren ye, bi xian ku qi xin zhi, lao qi jin gu, e qi ti fu, ? ? ? ?, xing fu luan qi suo wei, ? ? ? ? ? ?, ? ? ? ? ? ?.

My lack of Chinese reading skills thinks that the last part says "suo yi something xin something something, something something qi suo bu neng." However, that's just reading pronunciation without meaning. Help!

Okay, here are various English translations, but the Chinese-ness seems to be lost in the translation. I'd actually prefer to know a more literal translation.

"Thus, when Heaven is about to confer a great office on any man, it first exercises his mind with suffering, and his sinews and bones with toil. It exposes his body to hunger, and subjects him to extreme poverty. It confounds his undertakings. By all these methods it stimulates his minds, hardens his nature, and supplies his incompentencies." (Translated by James Legge in The Works of Mencius)
"So it is that whenever Heaven invests a person with great responsibilities, it first tries his resolve, exhausts his muscles and bones, starves his body, leaves him destitute, and confounds his every endeavor. In this way his patience and endurance are developed, and his weakness are overcome." (Translated by David Hinton in Mencius)


Lara said...

i really like those. thanks for sharing that. :)

fourthbreakfast said...

In Lois McMaster Bujold's book "Curse of Chalion," the hero has to die three times before the gods can work through him to save the world. Why? They tell him it's because he has to gather enough mind-expanding experience through pain in order for them to use him effectively.